French President Emmanuel Macron is set to win a second term at the Elysee Palace in Sunday’s second round against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, after winning 27.8% of the vote against his 23.1% in the first round and topped opinion polls throughout the race.
Mr Macron impressed viewers during Wednesday night’s lengthy televised debate with Ms Le Pen, in which he appeared combative and even a little haughty, challenging his opponent over his party’s financial ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia, and questioning his ability to govern.
However, keeping the incumbent in power is far from a formality, despite positive polls in his favour, as much of French public opinion remains unimpressed with his pro-European and pro-business policies at a time where France is mired in a cost of living crisis. crisis fueled by inflation.
Many voters support the sea change Ms Le Pen represents, especially now that she has taken steps to detoxify her party and refocus its attention on national concerns, although for many her harsh anti-immigration rhetoric remains a pill too bitter to swallow.
When Mr Macron was elected in 2017, he became the youngest President of the Republic in French history at just 39 years old.
Since then, he has led the country through five years of national and international unrest, from protests by “yellow vests” (yellow vests) in the streets of Paris against rising fuel taxes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ups and downs of his first term are perhaps nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the contrast between the famous photo of him celebrating France’s 4-2 World Cup final win over Croatia in Moscow in July 201, and his return to the Russian capital four years ago. later to implore Mr. Putin not to invade neighboring Ukraine, where he was kept at a strict distance at the end of a long banquet table.
As for his career and his personal life, Mr. Macron was born in Amiens, north of Paris, on December 21, 1977, to his father Jean-Michel, professor of neurology at the University of Picard and his mother Françoise, doctor.
He has two younger siblings – Laurent and Estelle – and a paternal great-grandfather, George William Robertson, from Bristol.
The Macrons were not a religious family but their eldest son was baptized a Catholic at the age of 12 at his own instigation. However, Mr Macron later said he considered himself an agnostic.
As a teenager, Mr Macron was educated at the Jesuit institute Lycée la Providence in his hometown and it was there that he first met literature professor Brigitte Auzière whom he fell in love with and would later marry. later, despite being 25 years his senior and already married with three children.
The couple bonded during a theater workshop preparing for a production of the Italian play The art of comedy (1964) by Eduardo de Filippo, sparking concern from Mr Macron’s parents, who instead sent him to complete his secondary education at the elite Lycée Henri-IV in Paris.
He complied, reluctantly, but promised Madame Auzière that he would come back for her.
“A love often clandestine, often hidden, misunderstood by many before imposing itself”, he described in his memoirs.
“I was totally charmed by his intelligence,” said Brigitte Macron in a France 3 documentary. “He was not like the others.
A classmate quoted by The Parisian recalls: “In class, she always used him as an example. She was completely charmed by his literary talent. He wrote poems all the time and she read them aloud.
Mr. Macron then studied philosophy at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense, wrote a thesis on Machiavelli and Hegel, obtained a master’s degree in public affairs at Sciences Po where he specialized in governance and economics and is trained in the civil service, graduated from the National School of Administration in 2004 after completing an apprenticeship in a French embassy in Nigeria.
Between 2004 and 2008, he worked as an Inspector at the Inspection Générale des Finances, a branch of the French Ministry of Finance.
It was during this period that then Ms Auzière ended her 32-year marriage to banker André-Louis Auzière in order to marry him, their marriage having taken place in October 2007 and seeing Mr Macron become the father-in-law of her children: Sébastien Auzière, engineer; Laurence Auzière-Jourdan, cardiologist; and Tiphaine Auzière, lawyer.
Having become an investment banker at Rothschild & Co between 2008 and 2012, Mr Macron then entered politics when he was appointed deputy secretary general by French President François Hollande shortly after his election in May 2012, making him an adviser principal in a position of influence.
From there, he was appointed to the French cabinet as Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital in August 2014 by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, where he held this position for two years before resigning, leave the Socialist Party and present himself as a centrist, pro-commercial candidate for La République En Marche!
That campaign saw him go up against and beat Ms Le Pen in the competition to succeed Mr Hollande, her cause not helped by a disastrous display during that year’s televised debate in which she lost her seat. composure, scrambled her notes and seemed unprepared. The rest is history.
Away from government, Mr Macron and his wife – who proved an asset on the world stage, including dealing so graciously with Donald and Melania Trump at the White House or Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson at the G7 meeting in last summer in Cornwall – adopted a black Labrador Retriever-Griffon named Nemo.
The president was in his time an accomplished pianist, a fervent supporter of Olympique de Marseille and a fan of skiing, tennis and boxing.